Traffic problems could get worse

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Traffic problems around the City of Demopolis may not clear up any time soon according to Police Chief Jeff Manuel. For the last few days’ traffic along Highway 43 and Highway 80 has been extremely congested at certain times of the day.

Manuel said the situation does not appear as though it will get any better.

“It is going to get worse,” Manuel said. “We don’t want to scare people, but we want them to understand that right now we have the I-10 traffic coming through.”

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The problem arises when normal flows of heavy traffic from locals and traffic from evacuees come together. Manuel said the result can be congestion and short tempers. Manuel asked locals to curb their travel if at all possible during their busier times.

“At certain times when you add our regular traffic and our Interstate traffic, it can create a pretty big mess,” Manuel said. “We want to encourage anyone who doesn’t have to drive at those peak times to put things off if they can for a few hours and then go about their business.”

Several roads that would have provided faster escape routes, such as Interstate 10, have closed forcing evacuees to choose alternate routes. Gas shortages have also prompted many to come to Demopolis from as far away as Mississippi to fill their tanks. Manuel said when the two come together it makes for a very busy and cluttered situation.

“We are getting a lot more calls,” Manuel said. “There is also the gas situation where we are having to deal with the long lines at the gas stations. It is really becoming a problem for us because we have to keep the roads clear.”

Most drivers are not familiar with the area and this poses a danger. Manuel said local drivers should keep their senses sharp and their eyes on the road.

“What you have to think about is anytime you have an influx of traffic like we have most of these people have never been to Demopolis before,” Manuel said. “They aren’t paying attention and they don’t really know the area. That means we have got to be more aware.”

Manuel said there have been times they have had to clear a pathway to allow people into service stations to allow people to gas up. Many times this can result in angry drivers. He asked everyone to please be considerate to other drivers. Manuel said residents of Demopolis were very fortunate during Hurricane Katrina and should be considerate of those who did not fair as well.

“The biggest thing is we want people to realize that they have to be patient,” Manuel said. “We are very fortunate in this area because the amount of damage we have had has just been an inconvenience. A lot of these people coming in don’t have anything to go back to. We are very fortunate in this area and we need to show these people a little compassion.”